Thursday, January 1, 2009

Yellow Ribbons of Love

Unfortunately, James already seems to be developing an addictive personality. For those who’re out of the baby scene, some woman is laughing all the way to the bank because of her creation of “Baby Einstein.” We refer to it as Baby Crack because it is so highly addicting to the under-two set. It’s kind of like Sesame Street used to be, only even more low-tech and geared towards 9-month-olds. Whenever anyone in that demographic is feeling a little tense, anxious, jittery, or exhibiting any other symptoms of withdrawal, you can just pop one in and soon all’s well. Your little loved one is in the Zone as he watches grownup hands demonstrate how to play with baby toys, splashes of pretty colors flashing by, and extremely simplistic hand puppets doing quirky things accompanied by the music and poetry of the Great Masters. (I have to admit that they do learn a lot from it, whatever my disparagements may be.)

Anyway, anyway, anyway...James was really cranky the week before we left Pomona. He had a bad cold and didn’t feel well, so he got coddled with a lot of Crack. As he was watching Baby Van Gogh for the third time one day, he had a Helen Keller moment. “YEAH-YOA!” he yelled, as he bolted off his rocking horse. Spontaneous eruptions of “Yeah-yoa! Yeah-yoa! Yeah-yoaaaaa!!!” continued for the remainder of that week. We could be discussing doggies or fire trucks, but his invariable response was a loud “Yeah-yoa!” with a meaning look in his eyes.

I had no idea what he was talking about. But when we got back to Athens, I found out.

James had evidently received some kind of prophetic word.

“Yellow” is the color of hope.


My friend (and across-the-street neighbor) Betty Perno had her own “aha!” moment while in the shower one day. She was thinking about Katherine's trip home for Christmas, and how she could welcome her back. We live on a pretty little street named ‘Two Oaks’ after the massive, ancient trees that stand sentinel on either side of the road. Suddenly, the words of that song about the “old oak tree” came into her head.

The difference between Betty and me is that she acted on the inspiration. She called a few other neighbors to get the word out. Then she called the headmaster of Katherine’s alma mater. A friend who is a former mayor sent out emails to the Chamber of Commerce. Yellow (Yeah-yoa!) ribbons would be tied around trees to welcome Katherine back to her hometown and remind her that she has not been forgotten.

My middle child let the surprise slip out. I thought it was an incredible idea. But by the evening of December 23, I saw only two ribbons as I drove through the neighborhood. “Everyone’s too busy with Christmas,” I thought sympathetically. (Sometimes ‘just one more thing’ can drive you over the edge at Christmastime.)

But when I made a Walmart run on Christmas Eve, there were yellow ribbons all over the place, mingling with red Christmas bows. They were on mailboxes, sign posts, and random trees throughout the neighborhood. There were signs at the entrance and in people’s yards welcoming Katherine home. Katherine’s brave (or crazy?) life-long friend, Sally, even talked her brother and father into helping her put a banner up on the interstate from Atlanta!

Although there was a little miscommunication about the time, a wonderful group of neighbors still braved the cold drizzle to wait at the neighborhood's entrance for Katherine’s arrival. She cried when she saw what love inspired them to do.

I really love my town sometimes.

In this past (mostly-dreary/drizzly) week, we’ve discovered yellow ribbons all over Athens, scattered like bright Easter eggs throughout the city. We’ve found them everywhere from quaint, old neighborhoods, to banks and businesses and churches, to the school Katherine attended for 14 years. It’s like getting little hugs every time you turn around...symbols of caring that whisper, “You are not alone.”

Emory nerd that I am, I had to investigate the symbolism and origin of the yellow ribbon thing.

There is not one definitive consensus on it's symbolic value. In the early 20th Century, it was associated with awaiting the return of a loved one, usually a soldier off at war. In the 70’s, a story of a prisoner seeking confirmation of his welcome home upon release became the ubiquitous song. In the 80’s, it became a symbol of support for the hostages in Iran.

I think all of these manifestations....soldier, prisoner, hostage...are appropriate in Katherine’s case.

She is in a war, fighting vicious battles for liberation every day. She is a prisoner of her own broken body. She is held hostage by her physical limitations. But the ribbons sprinkled through her native town like beautiful, big, yellow petals tell her that she isn’t fighting alone. The Resistance is with her, doing battle behind the scenes on her behalf with the power of their love and prayers.

The encyclopedia goes on to tell me that the 20th Century usages of the yellow ribbon symbol may have evolved from earlier traditions: “The song/poem "She wore a yellow ribbon" has appeared in various forms for at least four centuries. It is based upon the same general theme. A woman of destiny is under some sort of test or trial as she waits for her beloved to return. Will she be true to him? This seems to be the lingering question and the basis for a great unfolding drama.” (Wikipedia)


The answer is YES.

Katherine, a woman of extraordinary destiny, is staying true to her Beloved through the terrible, torturing tests and trials.

There is, at least, no 'lingering question' about that.

Those yellow ribbons of love and hope testify that we are all waiting with her until those trials are over.

Thank you.


An afterthought:

It dawns on me that a hostage is usually freed by the payment of a ransom...and that one has already been paid.

Freedom is coming, as surely as the sun.

“Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.” (Ps. 55:17-18)

“...and the ransomed of the LORD will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 35:10)


Callie said...

Mrs. Arnold (and Katherine),
That post moved me to tears!! Over Christmas, as we went about our usual routine with doctor's appointments (they are never ending with a brain injury, as I'm sure y'all can understand to a much greater extent!!) and errands in town, seeing the yellow ribbons all over just blew me away. That this town has united in prayer for your sweet daughter. I have not stopped thinking about and praying for Katherine since I heard about her situation. I know what it's like to be a miracle beyond all human understanding!! Hopefully I'll get to meet y'all sometime when you're back in Athens again! God bless you this new year!
Callie Heintzman

Proverbs 18:14
A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?

The Padilla Family said...

I follow yours and Katherine's blogs about her progress. I have a four month old, (and a four year old), but was recently introduced to Praise Baby DVD's. They are just as addicting as Baby Einstein with the same type of videos just set to wonderful Contemporary Christian music! I love, love them! Just thought yoy might want to check them out. I got the collection of them at our local Christian book store. Here is the link to their website.
Praying for you all...

jennyhope said...

that is such a beautiful picture of God's love. So many people are still praying for Katherine and we appreciate the updates!!!

tatiana said...

ha! gotta totally agree w/ u on those baby einstein's.... they r amazin'! lol!
i've got my very own "yeah-yoa" ribbon of luv, wavin' in the gentle breeze, as bright as the sun, hopin' for the freedom we all know is comin' 4 katherine....
luv & prayers,
tati :)

"Beauty for Ashes" Isaiah 61:3 said...

(I posted this on Katherine's caring bridge page just after Christmas and wanted to share with you as well!)
Katherine and family,
I graduated Samford in 2001 and only knew of you and heard about your journey in familiar circles. Needless to say I am utterly amazed and in awe of your faith. I join with so many others and pray for you. Long story short-my parents were in a horrible car accident and my mom is still at St. Mary's in Athens, GA. It was so beautiful on Christmas day to drive through Athens on the way to see my Mom and see the yellow ribbons. It is a reminder that we are not alone and that God is with us in the midst of our pain and struggle. I will not loose faith for my mother's full recovery or for your own.

Thank you for sharing and inspiring


Becky said...

I come here often, but have never left a comment. I am Katherine's age, and I have a daughter who is about the same age as her sweet James. My heart breaks every time I look at her beautiful pictute. Each picture of James, and the "firsts" he is experiencing just tears me up inside for what Katherine and Jay should be experiencing together in their home, under their roof.

I don't say this to discouraging. I say this to tell you how uplifted I am, and how my faith is icreased every time I come here and read a post. My daughter, Sophie, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was two weeks old. I was saved at five years old, but not until this past year has God become so real to me. For the first time in my life, I have a desperate need for God's word to be in me. Your words are always a lesson to me. It always reminds me that my God is alive, and He lives in me! He is always at work, never sleeping!

I am believing God for a miracle in Katherine's life. I am believing for a full healing and recovery. Thank you for your honesty, and for your incredible transparency.

Hebrews 6:19-20
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has enterd on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in th order of Melchizedek.


Olga said...

Kim, that was beautiful. I love you very much, and you are truly not alone. I was encouraged reading this, and felt like God told blessed me with the same blessing. You are not alone.
The battle is the Lord's. Stand and watch the salvation of your God.